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First time home buyers: What to look for and what to ignore

First time home buyers: What to look for and what to ignore

When shopping for your first home it can be hard to narrow down what you want, and stick to a list of needs. It’s easy to get distracted by staging or design work, or location, and miss great attributes or glaring problems to a future home. While house hunting it’s important to make a list of what you absolutely need in a home, and some things that you’d want in a home. You need to know what your deal breakers are before you go out hunting. Here’s a list of what to look for in a property and what you should over look.


Don’t get distracted by the staging. It’s meant to make the home look appealing to you. Try not to focus on cosmetic or topical design elements, but focus more on the structure of the home. There could be a particularly tricky room, that a stager has laid out flawlessly, but you may not possess the same furniture or design elements. Ask yourself what you could really do with that room. These staging accessories are designed to appeal to you, they can sometimes trick you into liking a property that otherwise wouldn’t appeal to you.

Good staging can help you see the potential that the home has, but be sure to ask yourself if it’s the home you love and not the furniture or design in it.


You may want to find houses within a certain neighborhood or area. Maybe it has the best schools or is the most walk-able to downtown. Whatever the reason, don’t let your desire to live in this area overshadow what you’re looking for in a home. You may find a cute home in the neighborhood that you love but it could be 1-2 bedrooms or bathrooms short of what you’re looking for. If it’s a popular neighborhood, you could be priced out of what you’re looking for too. You need to decide if paying more for a smaller home is worth it to you, even if it’s in the neighborhood that you desire.

Cosmetic Changes

Even though a home may appear less attractive than you’re looking for, it’s important to consider what features are cosmetic to a home and which aren’t. For example, you may hate the external paint color, but paint colors are always things you can fix about a home. Minor adjustments can always be made, whether it’s a tiny kitchen or bathroom renovation, etc. Know what can be changed later and what’s important to focus on now.

Along the same vein of this, don’t think that every problem is an easy fix. Making a layout more open by knocking down walls, is an expensive change to a home. It may be more financially smart to find a home with an existing open layout.


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Different Types of Mortgages

Different Types of Mortgages

If you’re looking at becoming a first-time home owner, you may need to brush up on your mortgage knowledge. Talk to your real estate broker and see if they can recommend a lender for you to talk to about your mortgage options. Getting pre-approved when you’re house hunting can be a great advantage to getting the home that you want.

If you’re pre-approved you already know what sort of financial situation you are in, and what sort of mortgage you can afford. Therefore, you know what price point of homes you can look at, what price of homes that you can afford.

Learn about different types of mortgages here and talk to a lender and see which mortgage works better for you.

Fixed-rate mortgage

A fixed rate mortgage means that the interest rate for the loan, is locked in at the beginning of the mortgage agreement. Fixed rate mortgages can come in terms of 10-15-30 years. The most common of mortgages is a fixed rate 30 year mortgage. This provides the owner with the lowest mortgage payment per month, as it divides the loan into 30 years of payments, with a fixed rate of interest.

Fixed rate mortgages are also popular because they are the most predictable; the owner knows what their payment will be month to month for the entire timeline of their term in years.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages

There are many different types of adjustable rate mortgages(ARM), but the essential idea is that the interest rate can change over time.  If a home buyer gets a one year ARM, the interest rates on their loan change to the current market rate, once a year on the anniversary of their loan. This can be risky as you could wind up paying different amounts of mortgage payments from year to year. They payment amount may go down, but it also may go up.

10/1 ARM’s also change in interest as time goes on. This features a fixed interest rate for the first 10 years, but then is subject to change every year to the current market interest. This loan is typically for 30 years, and is typically used by homeowners who intend to pay their home off before the initial 10 years have passed.

Balloon Mortgages

Balloon mortgages feature a much shorter term and a fixed rate of interest, much like a fixed rate mortgage. The difference is that balloon mortgages feature a larger or balloon payment at the end of the loan. The monthly payments are lower and typically go to interest being accrued. Balloon mortgages are great for responsible borrowers, and typically are for people who intent to sell the house before the balloon payment is due. These mortgages can get tricky, as you’ll be required to re-finance if you can’t afford the balloon payment when it’s due.

Check out the different types of mortgages and see what you can afford, and how long a payment schedule you want to commit to. Talk to a lender to see what your options are and what makes the most sense for you.

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October real estate forecast shows drop in number of homes sold and home prices

The real estate market has slowed down since an eventful summer market. Even though things have slowed slightly in the Central Oregon Real Estate Market, November is promising to be a strong month for the year.

Median Home-sale price

In October, the number of homes sold dropped from September. The median home-sale price in Bend, Oregon, fell in October, which copies the trend from October of last year. The year-to-date median sales price continued to rise last month, adding a very small amount in October to the previous month’s figure. The median sales price has continued to rise each month in 2016.

The median sales price in September, of $385,750, dropped by 4.2 percent to $369,500.  September’s median sales price was the second-highest in the 10 years for which Duke Warner Realty has data. In three of the last four months, the median price has been less than $370,000, a threshold reached in May ($374,000), June ($370,000) and September.

Before 2016, October’s figure of $369,500 would have ranked as the second-highest for any month in the past 10 years, behind the high of $396,250, achieved in May 2007. This is a pretty impressive number considering Central Oregon’s trends concerning the real estate market.

Number of homes sold

 The number of homes sold has decreased, with the lowest number sold per month since March. One hundred ninety-two homes were sold in October, and 185 were sold in March. Sales and transactions aren’t processing as fast as they have in recent months, which is to be expected in the fall market. October’s total units sold was the lowest by 12 percent for the last couple of years. September finished with 229 homes sold.

Final Analysis

The median home sale price has dropped from September, just like it did in October of last year. Number of homes sold decreased from September to October, lowest since March. This can be attributed to a slower transaction process.

We expect to see a very active market in November, including pending sales moving the following months.

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The Pros and Cons of Owning a Timeshare

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Timeshare

If you’ve ever considered investing in a timeshare, there are many options to consider. You need to know how they work and if that fits into your yearly vacation plans. Here is a breakdown of what timeshares are and if they are a worthy real estate investment.

What are timeshares?

Timeshares are typically fully-furnished apartments or condos that you can pay to rent for certain weeks of the year. For example, you may pay to rent the same condo in Florida, for the same week or two of every year. You will sign a contract and pay a lump sum to ensure that for the time-period of the contract, every year the condo is yours for a specified date range. The average sales price of a share of a condo is $19,000, with a smaller yearly maintenance fee.

Some companies are offering a points system timeshare system, that can provide more flexibility. Users earn points that can be used at any time of year at certain hotel or property system. For example, if you buy into a hotel chain’s timeshare program, you have the flexibility of staying at any of those hotels locations, with some flexibility added in.


Timeshares can be a long-term financial commitment. Most timeshares don’t have an expiration date, meaning you’re saddled with a yearly maintenance fee until you sell your timeshare. This isn’t a problem if you use your timeshare every year, but if your enthusiasm wanes, getting rid of your timeshare could be slightly more difficult than selling a house.

If your finances aren’t exactly stable, investing in a timeshare may not be for you. You want to make sure that you can always afford the yearly maintenance fee. While affording a monthly mortgage is still something you need to plan for, a mortgage ends when the loan is paid off. Timeshare agreements don’t typically have end dates, so be prepared to pay fees until you get rid of the share.


You typically save on travel expenses, because you don’t have to pay for a place to stay. Cost per usage can work out when you factor in the cost of hotels on normal vacations. Because you have access to a full kitchen in most timeshares, you also can save money when you travel, due to less restaurant dining.

Some timeshare programs offer trades for users, letting them trade their weeks for shares in other locations. For example, you’ll give up your week at your normal timeshare in Florida, for a week in Spain.

One of the pros that timeshare users note is that you’re guaranteed a vacation once a year. Whether you rent your timeshare out, or trade it for another week, it’s certain that it forces you to take the time each year to take a break and go on a vacation.

If you’re concerned that the excitement of going to the same place every year may wear out, consider purchasing of a timeshare with a points system, so you can trade weeks and experience new locations.

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Showing your home in winter months

Showing your home in winter months

Perhaps you’re selling your home in the colder months. While it may be easier to sell a home with lush flowers, bursting garden beds and green grass, there are ways to highlight a home in colder months to make it appealing to potential buyers.

For potential buyers

If you’re looking at buying a home in warmer months, it’s important to know how the house is heated. Heat can be a major expense in some homes. Older homes may feature older heating systems, which can cause you more money in utilities in the long run.

Know how warm the house typically stays. Try to find out if the house hold’s heat well, or if it’s drafty. This doesn’t strictly apply to older homes. Newer homes can leak heat as well.

Know what sort of climate that you’re buying in. If it’s cold all the time, your heating system is important to consider. If you’re buying in a mostly warm climate, it may not be that important.

If the home you’re looking at is in a very cold climate you may want to consider roads leading to your house, or your driveway. If there’s only one way to get to your house, and it features an extremely steep hill that’s prone to ice, you may want to reconsider the home.

For homeowner’s selling

Make sure to inform your listing agent how your home is heated. If your heating system is outdated, updating it could make your home more attractive to potential buyers, and help you get more value when you sell your home.

Highlight warmer areas of your home, like a central fireplace in a family or living room. Be sure to flaunt any additional warmer features, like heated floors or a master bedroom fireplace. These are features that will entice buyers.

Selling a home in the fall or winter

Some people think that buying or selling a home in the fall or winter is a bad idea. Typically the housing market has more listings in the spring and summer, as people believe this is the “perfect time to buy.” The reality is, people buy homes year round, and in the colder months you’ll find more serious home buyers. Buyers in cooler months tend to be more serious. They need a home now which is why they’re looking.

Take Away

The housing market doesn’t fall flat in any market in the colder months. People will always need homes, and sometimes they can’t or don’t want to wait for warmer months. Make your home seem as cozy as possible and highlight any unique heat-related features. If you’re looking for a home, be sure to consider how it’s heated, what your utilities could look like, and what sort of climate you’re in.

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Tips for Getting Your Home Appraised

Tips for Getting Your Home Appraised

If you’ve decided to sell your home and get it appraised there are some things you should know to look out for to get a better appraisal price. Here’s a list of what to fix, organize and look out for.

Let your appraiser know about any home improvements you’ve done over the years. Don’t leave anything out that could potentially help increase the value of your home.

Simple updates can go a long way when you’re getting your home appraised. Try updating fixtures, like doorknobs, light fixtures, faucets, etc. Updating paint color and window coverings can also help a home to feel more updated.

Always be sure to keep your eye on the market in your area. Check out other homes that are for sale and see what they’re highlighting or updating. It’s best to stay competitive on these features. You may be able to figure out what cause problems in appraisals within your area. This information should be public record.

Make sure to have all of your safety equipment installed and working properly. Check all of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to be sure the batteries are charged and working properly.

Clean! A clean home is always more attractive than a cluttered or dirty home. Clean counters, tables and other horizontal spaces that tend to gather junk and piles of mail or magazines.

Take care of your lawn. If you have brown patches get your sprinklers fixed, or invest in a bag of grass seed and get that portion of your lawn re-growing. Trim any bushes or trees that have gotten overgrown, and weed your flower beds. Make your home look like you take care of it regularly, and it will make the home’s value higher, to both an appraiser and potential buyers. Think about curb appeal.

A great tip from appraisers is to fix anything that cost less than $500 to fix. Even if they’re small fixes, and you think they won’t harm your appraisal or selling price, they could. A small fix that costs $150 could often cost you much more than that in value after an appraisal.

Be sure to familiarize your appraiser with attractions in your location. If there is a school or park nearby, or a small neighborhood café or grocery store. These things tend to increase the value of homes, as they offer convenience.

You can always talk to a local real estate broker and find out what their buyers are looking for in homes, and what they’ve seen prior appraisers focus on. Get some help in diagnosing what you want to focus on improving or fixing.

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September Real Estate Forecast Shows a Bigger Inventory Increase and a Slight Decline in Sales

September Real Estate Forecast Shows a Bigger Inventory Increase and a Slight Decline in Sales

The real estate market has slowed down slightly since we have rounded into the colder fall months. But even though things appear to have slowed down, September was a great month for listings, seeing one of the highest numbers in months. The Bend Real Estate market is still stronger than 4 to 5 years ago in the fall.

Benchmark Interest Rates

It was announced in September that the central bank would not raise its benchmark interest rate. The Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen made this announcement. This rate is used to set the rates of most bank loans. So how does this affect housing market in Central Oregon?

Fed Fund rates are currently at .50 percent, but they may not remain there much longer. Some economist polls have predicted that there will be an increase to .75 percentage points, sometime in the fourth quarter of the year.

The Federal Reserve hasn’t raised its benchmark rate since December 2015. Since then, conventional mortgage rates have fallen and are near three-year lows. So even if the Federal Reserve decides to increase their rate, it may not mean that mortgage interest rates will increase right away.

Some believe that the low interest rates have driven housing prices up. With a low interest rate, some homebuyers are able to afford higher priced houses, which could possibly be driving prices up.

There are so many variables associated with home buying and interest rates to accurately predict what will happen. Even with an expected rise to the Fed’s benchmark interest rate, it’s impossible to accurately predict what will happen to the housing market.

Number of Listings increases

In Central Oregon listings were up, even though there was a decline nationally. Building permits did see a rise nationally. This could indicate a growing trend of more home-building activity.

Locally listings continued to rise from August, going from 534 to 554 in the month of September. The number of listings has continued to grow even from July, with September coming in as the highest number of listings per month since before February.

Pending listings did see a slight decrease, but it’s expected that sales will continue to come through in October. Sales fell from August to September slightly, as was expected after the summer sales rush was ending. The market is still more active than prior years, and is expected to stay busier in the coming months.

Final Analysis

To keep track of the current real estate trends in Bend, Oregon, and the trends of fall as we head into colder months, keep in touch with Duke Warner Realty. We compile comprehensive market data that is available to home sellers and buyers. Learn about what we can do to help you with buying or selling real estate by visiting, browsing our Facebook page, or calling us at (541) 382-8262.

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Upgrades on Homes that make them more attractive to prospective buyers

Upgrades on Homes that make them more attractive to prospective buyers

These days it’s a buyer’s market. They have plenty of homes to choose from, and they can narrow down top properties by the smallest details. If you have upgrades that are needed on your home, and you’re considering selling it in the near future, here’s what you should focus on.

To fix up or to leave as is

It can be hard to decide if fixing up your home will financially benefit you in the long run. Something to consider in today’s market is that some buyers are looking for fixer uppers. Some buyers want the challenge of doing small remodels on their new homes. Some major problems with your home, like foundation cracks or serious plumbing problems, might work as deterrents for prospective buyers. Smaller changes like an outdated bathroom, that could do with a smaller remodel and some newer tiling might not be seen as any issue to new buyers. You do need to consider if your house requires fixing in areas, that you will need to price it lower. If buyers are looking for a fixer upper, they are already expecting to put some money into the home, so they don’t want to be at the top of their budget when it comes to the listing price.

Fixing it up

Before you fix up your home, you need to consider what features or upgrades will earn you the most value when it comes time to sell your house. If the upgrade isn’t going to return the investment when you sell your house, it’s not worth it to do the upgrade.

It’s important to consider what other homes on the markets are offering. If you notice that most homes have upgraded kitchens, it may be a good idea to upgrade your kitchen. It’s up to you how minor or major you want to go with a remodel. It depends on the materials used, cost to you and what your market is like. You may not want to rip apart your kitchen, and invest in all new appliances. Maybe your kitchen would look infinitely better with a new coat of paint and new fixtures or faucets.

Replacing worn carpeting is a must. It’s one thing that sellers almost always notice and it can leave a bad taste in their mouth. If your carpet is severely worn, stained or ripped it can convey to the seller that you don’t take care of your home. They may wonder what else you’ve neglected in your home.

Damaged roofs need to be fixed as well. This is something that will harm you when it comes to home inspection time, and it will definitely turn buyers away.

Changing light fixtures and ceiling fans that are old or outdated can immediately change the feeling of a room or your home. This is a big one. It can make your home look updated without any hard work. It’s a simple fix. Fixtures can get spendy, but they will almost always return the investment.

It can be difficult to decide what you fix and what you leave, or if you even fix anything at all. Keep your eyes on the market to see what other sellers are doing. Talk to a real estate broker and see what they’re seeing more frequently. If you do minimal upgrades that guarantee a return on investment, it’s worth it to you.

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How to Easily Make Your Home Show Ready

How to Easily Make Your Home Show Ready

If you’ve listed your home, you know how irritating it can be when mid-week you get the call that someone wants to look at your house. You’re thrilled at the interest in your home from a potential buyer, but you’re on the way out the door to soccer practice with the kids and you don’t have time to clean. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your home clean and show ready while you’re still living there.

Do a deep clean

If you’ve done a deep clean of your home at the start, it should be easier to keep things organized and clean. Ask for help from all of the members of your household, to keep in mind where they leave things and the messes that they make. Try to keep horizontal surfaces as clean as possible, like kitchen counters, coffee tables and dining room tables. This can tend to be the first place that people set things down and leave them. But keeping your clean house clean takes an effort from all members of the household.


Three points of light in a room is more likely to make the potential buyer feel at home. So if a room has a light fixture, try adding two other lamps around the room to make it feel more cozy.

One of the most important things that people always notice are the floors. Keep them shiny. This doesn’t have to be hard, use a quick spray jet or duster mop to keep things looking shiny and clean.

Make sure the bathrooms are kept clean. This can be a major turn off to any potential buyers. Clean bathrooms are a must. Try to keep counter spaces clean, and personal belongings in drawers, hidden from view.

Always do your dishes. Don’t let them stack up in the sink. When your house is on the market, you could get a call at a moments’ notice and need to leave. So do your dishes when you dirty them, to keep your kitchen looking clean at all times.

If you cook a lot, try using natural air freshening tricks to keep your kitchen and home smelling clean and fresh. Try boiling lemons or lighting neutral candles to neutralize odors.

If you have pets and you can’t take them with you, try finding a pet daycare that they can visit on the days of the week when you have showings.

Talk to your realtor. If showing your house is a huge headache to you and your family, try encouraging the realtor to show your house in big blocks of time, rather than randomly throughout the week.

The only way to make showing your house easy is to stay on top of cleaning. Don’t let clutter accumulate. Keep your kitchen clean and bathrooms spotless. If you stay on top of this, a last minute call and showing shouldn’t throw you. It should be a simple as whipping out the swifter for 5 minutes before you leave, or putting a small pile of mail away from the dining room table.

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Common types of House Styles

Common types of House Styles

If you’re hunting for a new home, you may want to be familiar with current and common types of construction features to a home. Know what you’re looking at and what you could be buying. Here’s a breakdown of common features.

Types of Foundations

A crawlspace is where the living space has been elevated off the ground. This is more beneficial to termite-prone or damper regions. This sort of foundation is less expensive than a full basement.

A basement is typically built on a concrete slab. A footing foundation is poured with foundation walls and a concrete block is usually set on top.

A slab foundation is a concrete pad that can be reinforced with steel. This covers the area that the house sits on. Modern slab foundations are well insulated.

Pile and girder foundations are far less common than the other types of foundations. This essentially like a house on stilts, and is perfect for a climate where frequent flooding occurs.

Consider the environment that you’re buying a home in, and what sort of basement you want. A basement foundation isn’t very common in Central Oregon due to the rocky soil. Often times dynamite is needed in construction to blast out enough space for a basement.

Common House Styles in Bend

Bungalow – Bungalow styles coincide with craftsman in some similar ways. This style originated in California and slowly moved to the Midwest. Bungalow homes typically have low-pitched roofs, with a small covered porch at the entry of the home.

Craftsman – Craftsman styled homes have been referred to as the ‘California bungalow.’ Craftsman are also known for featuring rear entrance styles. Often featuring a garage in the back and a back alley entry. This is a really common style to see in Bend, with many neighborhoods built with back entry alleyways.

Duplexes – Duplexes are another common form of home in Bend. They have a great resale value, as they’re perfect for renting out. Owners commonly rent out half of the home to help cover a mortgage.

When you’re house hunting

If you’re looking at a certain style of home and want to know more about it, ask your realtor. They should be able to provide you with more information concerning where the design originated or why it continues to be popular. See why it might work for you as a home or rental property.